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Public Hackathons +++ Munich supports Public Code +++ New Podcasts

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Read about our demand to publish the results of publicly financed hackathons as Free Software, about a new coalition-agreement in Munich that aligns with our principles of "Public Money? Public Code!" and what happened inside the FSFE and our community. You will also read about the results of our web-sprint, about our regular podcast and an extraordinary one.

COVID-19 Hackathons: Only Free Software creates global solutions

In recent weeks we have seen many hackathons that have been organised to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, many of them have been organised by governments and other public bodies who are hosting or funding these hackathons. As with our "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign, at the FSFE we demand that software resulting from publicly funded hackathons can be re-used globally by publishing it under a Free Software license.

Especially in a time when humanity needs to work together to find solutions for a crisis, we cannot afford to reinvent the wheel again and again for software that helps us contain the spread of COVID-19. Global problems need global solutions! It is Free Software that enables global cooperation for code development. Any proprietary solution will inevitably lead to countless isolated solutions and will waste energy and time which we as humanity cannot afford in such a critical situation.

Participants at the FSFE web-a-thon in 2019.
At the FSFE's hack-a-thons, everything we code is free.

Munich commits to "Public Money? Public Code!"

Just a few years ago, a Munich government formed by SPD (social democrats) and CSU (conservatives) decided to abandon the local administration's migration to Free Software under the project name "LiMux". Since the election in March a new government has been in place and the coalition agreement between SPD and Greens in Munich includes a positive statement on the use of Free Software: the principle "Public Money? Public Code!" should apply in future.

While we welcome that the City of Munich seems to have come back on track, the agreement leaves room for improvement as it includes some typical loopholes such as the vague limitation to software whose code does not contain personal or confidential data. The FSFE will continue to closely monitor the progress of the implementation of the "Public Money, Public Code!" policy and how procurement procedures will be handled in the future.

Governments publish Corona tracing apps under a Free Software licence

In early March the FSFE published its demand that the use of any tracking technology to break the chains of disease infection may only be promoted on a voluntary basis, with fundamental rights respected, and that the software be published under a Free Software license. As a reaction to this, EU member states, supported by the European Commission, released a "Common EU Toolbox for Member States" including "Recommendations for a common approach to mobile tracing apps" asking to "openly publish the technical specifications and the source code for the apps, as a way to maximise re-use, interoperability, auditability and security".

Now more and more governments, like Germany, Austria or the Netherlands, follow the FSFE's demands and stipulate to publish the code of Corona tracing apps under a Free Software license. Still, we will closely monitor the process and want to achieve that the whole development process happen transparently as we know it from Free Software - and not to publish the code only after its development.

The biggest financial impact the FSFE faces in these times of physical distancing is the cancellation of Free Software conferences, including our own events. To keep the software freedom movement solid and alive, please consider donating a part of your conference budget to Free Software organisations, including the FSFE.

Upcoming events

What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE

Netherlands commits to Free Software by default

In an open letter to the Parliament, the Dutch minister for internal affairs, Raymond Knops, commits to a "Free Software by default" policy and underlines its benefits for society. A rewording of current market regulations shall be proposed to allow publishing of Free Software by the government.

Stories from the FSFE Planet

Get Active: Convince hackathons to create global solutions

We are still looking for hackathons that are organised by public entitites and trying to convince them to publish their software under a Free Software license. If you know such a hackathon, then help us to gather more of them on our dedicated wiki page.

Please ask for others to help you or directly get in contact with the organisers yourself to make them aware that the results of these hackathons should be made ready to be used globally and adapted locally - which is only possible if the software can be used, studied, shared and improved. You can find help for your communication on the very same wiki page.

Contribute to our newsletter

If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, send them to us. As always, the address is newsletter@fsfe.org. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

If you also want to support us and our work, join our community and support us with a donation or a monthly contribution.

Thanks to our community, all the volunteers, supporters and donors who make our work possible. And thanks to our translators, who enable you to read this newsletter in your native languages.

Stay safe,

Erik Albers

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